I taught Automotive for nine years and three of my top students were girls, so you don't get to use that tired excuse anymore. Those girls were sharp, and the guys had a lot of respect for them. There are just as many guys out there who are clueless about the machines they trust to get them back home.
If you assume you're going to be taken advantage of, you will be because that's what you'll be looking for, and a lot of what mechanics say and do for your benefit can easily be mixed up to appear like you're being ripped off. You need to think of your mechanic as your advocate, not your adversary. If they don't perform the proper repairs, you'll still have the same problem you went in with. In this case the biggest clue is the master cylinder was empty. That means there's a leak. Typically that is due to a rusted steel line or a burst rubber flex hose.
Here's where the mistrust starts. Due to the fact you pushed the brake pedal all the way to the floor, (even just once), the master cylinder could be damaged. Once the leak is repaired the mechanic is going to find that he still can't get a good solid pedal. What can happen on any car more than about a year old is crud and corrosion build up in the two bores in the master cylinder where the pistons and seals don't normally travel. That doesn't cause a problem until you run the pedal all the way down, then the lip seals can be torn by that crud. That results in internal leakage. You won't lose brake fluid from that but when you push the brake pedal, the fluid is going to leak internally through those torn seals. The result is the pedal will feel just like it does now.
There is always a slim chance the master cylinder did not get damaged but experienced mechanics will try to explain that possibility to you and many will include the cost of a replacement master cylinder in the repair estimate because they know it will likely be needed. Some shops don't include that because they want to keep the initial estimate as low as possible so they don't lose the job to a competitor down the street. Then they have to tell you later more parts are needed. That is frustrating for mechanics AND car owners.
Also be aware that if they find the master cylinder is okay, sometimes that internal leakage doesn't show up right away. It is not uncommon for the brake pedal to start sinking slowly to the floor when you push it, three or four days after a leak is fixed.
Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 AT 2:51 AM